There are now over 250 e-Gates in place at 15 air and rail ports in the UK to enable quicker travel into the UK. These gates use facial recognition technology to compare the passenger’s face to the digital image recorded in their passport.
The system is monitored by Border Force officers and anyone rejected by the gates will be sent to an alternative channel to have their passport checked.
As a reminder, the e-Gates can be used if:
- your passport is chipped (it will have a biometric symbol on the cover)
- you are aged 12+ (12 to 17 year olds must be accompanied by an adult); and
- you are either a British citizen, a national of an EU country, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the USA, or a member of the Registered Traveller Service.
Those travelling with ID cards cannot use the e-Gates.
E-gates should not be used by those coming to the UK:
- for short term study of up to six months
- with a Tier 5 Creative and Sporting Certificate of Sponsorship of less than 3 months
- to carry out a permitted paid engagement; or
- or as the family member of an EEA national who is moving to the UK permanently.
By using e-Gates, passports are no longer stamped by an Immigration Officer. However, to conduct a valid right to work check, an employer must view a valid Biometric Residence card for confirmation of immigration status and check the date of entry by obtaining other evidence. The evidence can include, but is not limited to, travel tickets or a boarding pass (in paper or electronic form). A record of the employee’s date of entry must then be noted on their file.
There is particular onus on Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsors who are under an obligation to check the date on which a migrant entered the United Kingdom to ensure that the individual entered during the validity period of their Tier 2 or Tier 5 clearance and have obtained the appropriate permission to work. Sponsored employees cannot work in the United Kingdom before the “valid from” date on their visa. They should also enter the United Kingdom before the “valid until” date. The total validity normally lasts for 30 days from the date the visa is granted.
If a migrant enters the United Kingdom before the “valid from” date on their visa, it is possible that they may have been admitted as a visitor and will need to seek re-entry to the United Kingdom within the validity of their visa. Evidence of entry must therefore be obtained and retained.
In the wider context, visitors are allowed a maximum of 180 days in the UK each year. The onus is on the individual to be aware of the date of entry and to ensure that departure from the UK falls within acceptable timescales.
Please note that if it is necessary or preferred for a passport to be stamped, the individual will need to see a Border Force officer before they leave the port to receive a stamp in their passport.
This article is from the February 2020 issue of Employment and Immigration Law Update, our monthly newsletter for HR professionals. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. For further information please contact a member of Birketts’ Immigration Team.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at February 2020.